Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Apologies

There has been a drought in articles. I apologize for this; I've been very busy with all sorts of other stuff. Hopefully, over the weekend, I'll give you all that stuff I slacked on.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Nintendo Force Review

Having grown up with Nintendo Power since I was eight, it was pretty hard to let go of the fact that I was never going to get another issue again. I even regularly check the website, a bitersweet relic of the days long gone. I miss those evenings, where hours of reading occured, I miss the NP crew, of Hassling the Hoff, the jokes of Big the Cat, Chris Slate's launch into space..... You can kind of see the writing style reflected onto here. Oh yeah, and I also hate Big the Cat..... but really, who doesn't?
It wasn't until earlier this year where I was browsing at Kickstarter and discovered Nintendo Force. True enough, it was the spiritual successor to NP. While it could be called a "rip-off", it's more attuned to an homage. It has Power Profiles, Retro Flashbacks (is that what they're called?), Don't Anger the Ox (a reference to Don't Hassle the Hoff), pages dedicated to the gaming community, interviews, and Yeah/Unyeah (similar to A Winner Is.../Dodongo Dislikes). Even if it may not be considered "original" by any means, it holds up.
The first thing to notice is the nifty little poster bundled with the magazine. A nice hand-drawn Mario Kart 8 homage.

As for the magazine, dear God is it good. It managed to up the ante, making it possibly even better than NP. The reviews and previews were well-written, it kept the great elements of NP, and it added more. For example, it brought back cartoon breaks and expanded upon the Retro sections. Furthermore, no advertisements. That's dozens of ad-free pages. It only proves how selfless the magazine is, not selfishly making money off of ads stuffed in between pages.
I don't want to spoil too much, but if you loved Nintendo Power, Nintendo Force is the way to go. I fully approve.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Personal List: Top 12 Game Titles from Game Icons You Probably Haven't Heard Of

So aside from the terrible (and lengthy) title, this article is dedicated to all those classic gaming titles we all know and love. Who could possibly forget Sonic Schoolhouse? Oh yeah, JUST ABOUT EVERYBODY.
Such games are usually forgotten because their downright weird.  The Blue Blur, faster than the speed of light, is driving a bus through Nebraska. What a delightful fate. BREAK OUT THE CHAMPAGNE EVERYBODY!!!
Seriously, these ideas range from really stupid to awesome. Such forgotten titles shall be addressed; here are my Twelve Favorite (Insert Long Titles Here)




12. McDonald's LCD Sonic Toys
Yes, I know. It was hard to believe there was ever a time when McDonald's toys were actually slightly interesting. Were the good? Probably not. But the idea that McDonald's once produced semi-quality toys astounds me. One such game is "Tails Sky Adventure", shown left, the inspiration of which originates from the (perhaps even more) unknown games Tails' Skypatrol and Tails Adventure. Such games make you wonder how fast-food toys went from mini video games to Spongebob Toys made from the cheapest plastic in all of China.







11.Mario & Wario
The peculiar title known as Mario & Wario was, from what I can assume, a SNES title. Using m super-awesome (and terrible) analysis skills, we can find Wario doing the "giant villian in the background" cliche, Mario with a, uh, bucket on his head? Screw it, I'm going with Wikipedia.
From the information our ever-so-accurate encyclopedia friend tells us, it's a puzzle game involving Mario blinded by various objects on his head, guided by a fairy to the end of a level.
I don't get it either.
While the game was released exclusively in Japan, it was in full English and even referenced in Pokemon Red and Blue, where by checking the SNES in Red's room, it states "A game with MARIO wearing a bucket on his head!"





10. Yoshi's Safari
Aww... Yoshi's Safari! Sounds like a cute little game where Yoshi plays with little animal friends!

NOPE!

This game is way to bad-ass for you pussies. Mario's got a freakin' gun, y'all. He gons shoot ya down!!!!
....
I won't do that again, I swear.
Basically Mario's response to Hogan's Alley or Duck Hunt, we ride upon our trusty steed and shoot down classic Mario enemies, such as Koopa Troopas and the classic Koopalings. The idea just baffles me. Why would you give Mario a freaking gun?! You wanna play a half-assed round of CoD? Then just freaking do it!
(Apologies to anyone who likes CoD. The only way I like it is with tartar sauce, thank you very much.)

9. Viewtiful Joe 2 
Maybe I'm just really stupid, but I don't ever recall there being a sequel to Viewtiful Joe. The game combined action, cinematic sequences, and a quriky sense of humor into a pretty sweet ride, and for some reason I didn't know that our cape-donned hero returned.





8. Mortal Kombat

You would think a game like Mortal Kombat would only be better if you could bring it wherever you go. Such was NOT the case for the ill-fated Mortal Kombat on the GameBoy. While many games were still good despite grayish tones, Mortal Kombat looked hilariously awful. In the end, though, we end up with a game more curious than good.







7. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

"That's RACIST!", I can hear you shouting. To be honest, GTA is NOT my area of expertise by any means. So many times, though, I forget this game existed. Come on, it doesn't even follow the numbering code!
From what I know, it's basically a GTA adventure similar to the first two (remember those?), where you get a nice overhead view of all the action. Even so, it's gotten the highest score for any DS game (on average) and the PSP version is well-recieved too, but it just doesn't seem as famous (or should I say infamous?) as the other ones.







6. Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters
Remember Kid Icarus? Probably. Remember the 3DS resurge? Hecks yeah! Remember the Gameboy version?
.........
.........
No?
The game is often dubbed a "hidden gem". With better gameplay, graphics, and an ever-so-memorable soundtrack, it was buried into obscurity, surrounded by more beloved games such as Tetris and Super Mario Land.




5. Doom
Remember when Doom hot the PCs. Aahhh.... I don't. But that's not the point. The ever-so-egotistic John "Narcissus" Romero became beloved for his work and creation of Doom, Quake, and the true classic and much-beloved Daikatana. (Just kidding, it freaking sucks.) and, taking a chance, ported over the success to a more compact gaming device. It was awesome.
While not as well-known as it's PC relative, Doom on the GameBoy Advance made a nic addition to the family.

4. Kingdom Hearts: Chain Memories
I don't know anything about Kingdom Hearts. Here's a game you probably haven't heard of in the series.
In actuality, though, the game is often forgotten. Directly following the PS2 release, while it was a commercial success, chances are that if there's a friend who loves Kingdom Hearts, they have never heard of this little gem.
Can you read this? Lucky you.
Okay Bye.


3. Ripening Tingle's Balloon Trip of Love
Tingle! Tingle! Kooloo limpah!
Bet you never thought I'd say that, did you?
This obscure Legend of Zelda spin-off is perhaps even stranger than the "Rocket Slime" series, and also, DEAR LORD, WHY DOES THIS EXIST!? Even odder is the fact that in the week of is release, it was in the top ten best-selling games. Why, Japan?
Apparently, this is a Japanese-excursive game (big shocker) in whic our hero of 35 years buys a picture book and gets... wait for it... sucked into it.... I can't make this shit up. Oh, and get this:
"A central gameplay element is the romantic communication with female characters. To complete the game, Tingle has to have some form of relationship with each of the five available girls. To raise the girl's affections, he must enter the "Love Push" mode, and attempt to raise their "love meters". He does this by giving them gifts, where each gift has a different effect on each girl." -excerpt from Zelda Wiki
He "attempts to raise his love meters." Tingle, dude, that's effing disgusting.

2. Freshly-Picked Tingle' Rosy Ruppeeland

Whaaaa? ANOTHER TINGLE GAME?!
Yep. Apparently Japan couldn't get enough of the glorified garden gnome and gave him another game, the third about him to be specific.
Arguably, this game could be considered more well-known because it was also released in Europe, but I think this game should be higher because, well, it sounds more interesting than a game glorifying a, err, "Love Meter". (Totally a euphemism.) The little information I have states that in the game, Tingle is given the oppurtunity to go to "Rupeeland", which might as well be the Walt Disney World of the Zelda-verse. Along his journey, he collects treasure and uses bodyguards to protect him..... Okay then....



1. Virtual Boy Wario Land
Despite being the first 3-D gaming system and one of the first handhelds, the Virtual Boy was horrible. It was ugly discomforting, and headache-inducing. All the games were complete garbage.
Or were they?
Wario Land is a rare exception. While others suffered through rounds of Nester's Funky Bowling, lucky (and pretty unlucky for actually buying the Virtual Boy) others got to play this obscure gem. This would probably be more loved had the Virtual Boy not been a complete disaster.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Some Lame Box Art

Just to hold you over, here is some commentary on laughably bad box art. Warning: this is probably filler content.

The Mystery of the Druids
It was obviously a rough week at the office. Either that, or the game was so horrifying that Mr. Druid over here wanted to make an O-face.








Super Duper Sumos
Witness true fear as three "sumo wrestlers" butt-slap. You know it's anatomically correct, though, because the buttocks is larger than the entirety of the rest of one's body thrust into a blender and poured into a bucket.
Furthermore, the explosion that their bottoms make echoes across the screen in vomit-green. How appetizing.




Bust-A-Move 2
If there's anything that makes me want to bust a move, it's demonic floating marbles. Reads the box, "So addictive... It should be illegal!" I could go on a rant about how idiotic a subtitle this is, but considering they thought it was deserving of a "K-A" rating, we obviously know the logic behind the game developers was quite flawed.




Karnaaj Rally
Jaleco is perhaps the Holy Grail of bad box art. I think I might make a list on that, actually. Anyway, we know that the team was of great genius to have stuffed onto the cover a screaming dude with blue hair. "Woah, dude! This game is rad!" he seems to say... If only I could agree.






Phalanx
Another famous example of bad box art is Phalanx. According to the team, though, it was intentionally confusing to stir up interest in the customer, which I have to agree with: nothing says "great game" like a hillbilly rocking out on his banjo, completely oblivious of the enormous fighting jet right behind him.


Art Alive
Remember this gem?.... No?... I don't either. We witness a young child oogling at his virtual fish tank while atop sits two kids. The girl seems to be giving a banana to a monkey, and that face.... Anyway, to her left is a young boy, extremely satisfied by a parrot on his hand that he forgets that its talons are digging into his flesh.
How delightfully charming.




Night Trap
Our woman up front is so happy with her purchase that she jumped right up front with the most disgusted face ever. Perhaps she's just showing how angry she is that she was featured in the 1 1/2 hours of FULL MOTION VIDEO that she points at.







Iron Sword: Wizards and Warriors II
Fabio was having trouble with his career, and as a last resort, he decided to pose for box covers. That's probably how the story goes at least.








Ninja Golf
Ninjas.... stealthy men of the shadows and also one step away from becoming the next Tiger Woods. There are no words to describe how ridiculous this cover is, so I won't even try.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

INTERVIEW: The String Player Gamer on His Video Game Orchestra

Meet Diwa de Leon. Best known as The String Player Gamer, he makes original compositions and acapellas of video game music with a distinctly classical (and humorous) touch. This intriguing combination has given him over 10,000 subscribers and over four million views. Thankfully, he has agreed to an exclusive interview with me!

What kinds of video games did you play throughout your childhood and how influential were they? Which are some of your favorites?
I was born in the 80s so much like everyone, I started with Super Mario Bros. Fast forward to the 90s, Playstation One came along and introduced me to these great JRPGs. They defined my teenage years especially Xenogears, Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy VII and VIII. These four games are highly influential in me falling in love with videogame music and I dare say, inspired me to become a composer with a leaning towards videogame soundtracks.

How long have you been playing music?
All my life! I wrote my first composition for the piano at age 5. My father was my first teacher. I come from a family with 3 generations of musicians.
I took private violin and piano lessons in my pre-teen years, and guitars lesson late in my teenage years.
In high school, I studied in a specialized arts boarding school and studied painting and sculpture, thinking I could become an architect later on.
I was so very wrong.
It took me a year in a college architecture course to realize how I was NOT MEANT to be an architect. I did not like it at all. Also, at that time, I already formed a band with my high school buddies and started accept freelance songwriting projects. So what the heck was I doing in architecture college.
I shifted to music, majoring in composition, at the University of the Philippines and the rest is history.
I’ve been writing music for local films, tv shows, video games and of course Youtube videos ever since.
How did you make the connection between classical music and video games?
When you talk about film music, I always think John Williams (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter) as my biggest influence.
When it comes to video game music, only one name comes to mind: Nobuo Uematsu. Just him really. He is my connection between classical music and video game music. As I said, his orchestral scores in Final Fantasy games made me love video game music.
Nobuo Uematsu made videogame music respectable. He paved the way for more serious composers to pay attention to videogame music as a viable career path.
Which is better; Beethoven or Koji Kondo?
Tough question. While it’s true Beethoven has the advantage of time, Koji Kondo is no slouch either. Time will tell if both of them will be equals in people’s memories.
A thousand years from now though, I believe people will still hum both the Mario Bros. Theme and Beethoven’s 5th Symphony even if they forget who wrote them.
What are your favorite video games?
I play any and all genres (except perhaps life simulations with Animal Crossing as the only exception).
Nintendo Games. All of it.
Final Fantasy series and most SquareEnix RPGs, yes even FF XIII & XIII-2, I get grind crazy with RPGs, and Bravely Default is my current grind companion.
I also love the Uncharted Trilogy, Mass Effect Trilogy and Assassin’s Creed series.
How long do your compositions take?
Very erratic. From 1 minute to 1 month. There is really no fixed time. Sometimes a real inspired moment comes and sends me a fully formed piece or symphony in my mind. I record it right away and it can be done in a day.
Sometimes it can come in bits and pieces, then I have to figure out the rest of the music over time.
Seen here; The Conducter alongside Mario, Mario, Mario, Mario,
Mario, Mario, Mario..... you get the point.
What was the inspiration for your "Mini Mario Orchestra"?
It came by accident! It was back in my Guild Wars 2 video when I inserted versions of myself in Mario costume playing the bass guitar and some violins. Then it hit me. Why not make a video series centering on a full-fledged Mario orchestra? 
There was much positive feedback so I decided to give the orchestra more airtime in my channel ever since.

What do you want of the future and what goals do you want to accomplish?
I plan to keep writing music for the rest of my life! This is it, I’m living my dream. This IS the future I always thought of when I was young. So it’s all fun from here on.

How do you feel about video game music "remixers"?
I love it! Especially now, videogame remixers have exploded in Youtube and there are so many great musicians and I’ve even made friends and collaborated with some of them.
I take every possible opportunity to
use this poster.
Lastly, the the most important question: what do you think of modern-day music, such as the dreaded dubstep?
Haha! It’s a passing cycle. Music constantly changes, so does people’s tastes. But I always look at the positive side of any music genre and see what I can learn from there, even dubstep. There is good and bad music in all genres. It’s up to you how you can learn from it.

I would like to thank Mr. Diwa for this interview once more. 
As a footnote, I am aware that my blog is constantly running behind schedule, but I'll try to get the next posts out as soon as humanly possible.




Saturday, April 5, 2014

Personal List: 6 Nostalgic Moments that I Never Experienced

Having lived throughout the 21st century, I was never exactly exposed to the classics. Just to demonstrate this, here's a list of games I never experienced:

Pong, Breakout, Arkanoid, Space Invadors, Legend of Zelda, Legend of Zelda II, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Donkey Kong Math (remember that one?), Mario Bros., Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong Country II, DOnkey Kong Country III, Chrono Trigger, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic and Knuckles, Alex Kidd in Miracle in Miracle World, Shinobi, Probably some other huge NES, SNES, and Genesis games, Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (DX), Super Mario Land, Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons/Ages, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Pilotwings, Pilotwings 64, Mario Party, Mario Party 2, Shantae.......

You get the point. It's a lot.
Even so, thanks to an amazing piece of cutting-edge technology known as "Internet", I have a vast knowledge of memorable moments in gaming, 99% of which I've never experienced first-hand, second-hand, err, third-hand.....
The point is, here are six nostalgia-inducing moments in gaming history that I've never witnessed.
6. Majora's Moon
Remember the hairs raising on your chest as the terrifying moon crashed down to the Earth? Seeing the explosions of Clock Town as the clock tower fell to the ground, and Link screamed as you met with a terrible fate (have you?)?
Well I certainly don't!
It's kind of weird for me to consider that this game came out in 2000, the dawn of the 21st century. It seems so much older, I guess because of the technological advances we've made over the years or the many pictures of me in diapers. Yeah, that's right. I wasn't able to stand up on my own two feet when this game came out.
Now that's not to say I'm nine years old. Cuz' I'm not. Seriously. STOP LOOKING AT ME! Just... just do the math, okay?
No, but really, this is perhaps the most recent nostalgic game I've never even touched, let alone played.


5. Watching the Heroes of Nintendo Being Flushed Down the Toilet
Said a raspy-voiced Mario, "Y'know what they say. Toastas... toast toast." C'mon, we've all seen the CD-i games by Phillips from the mid-90s. In one terrible move, Nintendo granted Phillips the usage of their best-selling heroes; Mario and Link. What happened goes down in history as Youtube Poop. For those who are unfamiliar with this strange practice, "Youtube Poop" is a series of edited pieces of pop culture using odd effects such as strobe lights and making the victims repeat sentences l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-like this. It's actually quite hard to explain.
Either way, we got to witness some of the worst Nintendo games in history; Hotel Mario, and the triple Zelda games from Hell. The games didn't sell. They got horrible reception. And best of all: we all get to make fun of them.
4. Daydreaming of Laura Croft
Back in 1996, eagle-eyed Playstation players gawked over Laura Croft? She was beautiful. Those eyes, they showed no mercy as she glanced over her shoulders...
Nah, just messing with you. It was the cleavage.
Back when the game was being created, some graphic designer accidentally hit some button that increased her breast size by, well, a LOT. He was going to delete it when others commented that it should stay in the game. With that tiny mistake, one of gaming's biggest sex icons was born.
I'm not going to say much. I'll try not to make too BIG of an article just about what's going on up there.
[Insert immature sexual innuendo here]
Either way, Laura Croft was not only one of the first female heroes in gaming, but also, well, hot. That's why she's at Number Four.
3. The Dog Ending in Silent Hill 2

Oh, yes. Silent Hill. The survival horror game is often considered a staple of its genre, perhaps scarier than Resident Evil, I don't know. To be honest, I don't play horror games, and I know little about Silent Hill, but one of the few things I'm aware of is its branching endings. The most memorable? You find out that everything was maipulated by.... wait for it..... a dog. Our hero then proceeds to rub against it, and the ending credits is an odd dog-barking medley accompanied by some questionable inclusions such as a pizza. Real classy.
2. The Forest Maze
Who could forget their stroll through the Forest Maze in Super Mario-oh RPG? It's considered a staple of the game and widely considered one of the more iconic SNES moments. Then there was the music. Even people who have never played or heard of the game knows this music. My grandmother knows this music. My cat knows this music. That rock over there?.... Well, actually it's a rock, so it can't hear, but it probably knows the music too. There is no reason to defend my choice in the matter; we all know that it deserves to be here, yet there's one moment that tops it all off, and you probably know what I'm talking about.
1. Aeris' Death
Let's completely forget that the cutscene depicting Aeris' death is in horrifying FMV. That moment, way back in 1997, was like Sephiroth kicking you in the groin. It hurt. A lot. The character that we'd come to love was dead. Just like that.
While it may not be a surprise anymore (now that it's spread across the Internet like wildfire), but even today, watching that happen on the TV screen was painful. It truly was the first emotional moment in modern gaming history. And thus it deserves its place not only on this list, but in our hearts.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Video Game Characters IRL: Tails "Miles" Prower

Am I late again?..... Really? Damn, I suck at this.

Yes, we all know that Tails is probably the best Sonic character. He's also the one that didn't get as screwed over with the new announced TV series. Clearly, he's the fan favorite. A nice counter to the narcissistic
hedgehog, obsessed Amy, and... whatever the hell is going on with Knuckles. Let it also be said that he's effing adorable.
Even so, no character is without a sin*. *May or may not be ripped off a beloved Youtube show. As such, I have tasked myself with unearthing how our cuddly mutant squirrel would be if he decided to move over here. And just a little heads up, this might get a little discomforting.
First off, what exactly is Tails supposed to be? According to our trusted friend Wikipedia, he's a fox. Even so, he appears to say a little more than "Ring-ding-ding." And "Ahee-ahee-aheeee". In terms of appearance, I liken him to that of a squirrel who took a bath a little too close to the Chemical Plant Zone, which would evidently explain his suspiciously odd tail. Either that, or he was a test subject at some laboratory dedicated to genetically-modify rodents.
So.... yeah.
Anyway, let's take a look at the chart:

The first real problem I have with him is his face. Is it cute? Duh. But why is it so long? His head-to-body ratio is that of a bobblehead, and it's a surprise he can hold up his head instead of it falling off. He also appears to have a half-finished Mohawk going on and white frosting covering his mouth. Yummy.
And when he talks? I know he's supposed to be nine years old, but..... wait.... NINE? Nein! I refuse to accept that! He's like 22 years old in terms of how long he's been in existence. And let's not forget his vocal cords, attune to that of a six-year old schoolgirl. As much as I love him, I think we should send him a new set of vocal cords.
Also, much like all other Sonic characters, his limbs have the consistency of linguini noodles. I can seriously picture him walking around like Spongebob, flailing his arms silly.
His shoes are also abnormally out of proportion. They are practically as big as the shoes of an astronaut's get-up and probably weigh as much as an elephant. The verdict? He'd fall through the floor of my house.
Now, if we were to insert him into real life, he'd probably be the "Best friend" type. Y'know, that generic type of person in all of those cheesy romantic comedies from the '80s? Direct carbon copy. He's pretty outgoing, cute, and effing smart. He can build big-as-hell robots for God's sake. However, he would also face restrictions. These include the aforementioned elephant shoes, being trapped in furry conventions, and regarding physics, he couldn't fly. Also, he'd probably end up as a delightful pile of roadkill eventually.
In the meantime, though, he's Matthew-approved.

NOTE: THIS ARTICLE IS PART OF THE LEGACY LIST. FOR MORE INFORMATION, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Everything About Video Games: Now Avaliable in Catinese!

Here at the HQ we are happy to announce that our blog is now available for the leisurely enjoyment of cats! This is a huge milestone for us as we can finally appeal to the broader audience. Considering that half our viewership are felines, this is a great step forwards for us, as they can finally enjoy it to the maximum potential.
As you can evidently see, my kitten is very excited by this great news. She doesn't want to show her face right now because she doesn't want you to see the sheer excitement she's going through right now!
To celebrate, I've posted an exclusive post only for the blog! Go check it out! (http://meow-mew-vg.blogspot.com/) I'll see you there!
Oh Yeah, and April Fools!